Reel Change: films that make a difference!

A series of four evenings of film
hosted by Building Better Neighbourhoods, COPE, Jim Hamm Productions and SFU
Public Interest Research Group.

Each film will be introduced by community activists who will facilitate
discussion after the screenings.

Two films left!

April 14: Wal-Mart: The high cost of low price: with VDLC
president Bill Saunders and Louise Seto, from Building Better Neighbourhoods.

April 17: The Take: with John Restakis, of the BC Co-Op
Association and Rachel Marcuse, from The Working World.

All screenings at 7:30 pm at ScotiaDance Centre 677 Davie St (at
Granville), Vancouver.

Tickets: sliding scale $5 – $10

For more information contact 604-255-0400, or


This feature length documentary uncovers a retail giant’s assault on families
and workers. The film dives into the deeply personal stories and everyday lives
of families and communities struggling to fight a goliath. Producer/Director
Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films take you on an extraordinary journey that
will change the way you think, feel — and shop. Running
time: 98 Minutes

April 17, 2008: THE TAKE
The Take is a Canadian documentary film
released in 2004 by the wife and husband team of Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis. It
tells the story of workers in
Buenos Aires, Argentina who reclaim control of a closed
Forja auto plant where they once worked and turn it into a worker cooperative,
or as could be argued, a working model of anarcho-syndicalism. Winner of 26
awards including the 2004 Sundance Film Festival.
Running time: 87 Mins.

Action needed on
homeless crisis

Vancouver has reached crisis levels,"
said COPE Cllr David Cadman. "
According to today’s release of the
homeless count, more than 1500 people are living on Vancouver streets. And with
people dying as a direct result of being homeless, City Hall has to act

The 2008 Metro Vancouver Homeless
Count, conducted on March 10, found that the number of people without a home in
Vancouver increased by 19 percent since

Cadman wants Mayor Sam Sullivan to scrap the Eco-Density policy of massive
development in the Downtown East Side (DTES) that allows developers to scrap
affordable housing and build three units of high-price condos for every unit of
affordable housing. He also wants the City to enforce its current DTES Housing
Plan that requires a one-to-one replacement of low income housing in all condo

“If we continue with rampant condo development in Gastown, Chinatown and the DTES, without
safeguards, all we’re doing is pushing prices up for all and driving people
into the streets," said Cadman.

Meanwhile Cadman wants the City to release its list of rooms that are sitting
empty and that could be used to house the homeless.

"The City has a list of single occupancy rooms that are being vacated by
the owners," said Cadman. "We know of 54 empty units at the Colonial,
and more than 100 units at Little Mountain that are empty and unused. The city
can use its powers under the Standards of Maintenance By-law to make these
rooms fit for occupancy."

Former Vancouver councillor and
long-time housing advocate, Ellen Woodsworth, is concerned that homelessness is
spreading across the city because Sullivan and his NPA councillors have failed
to implement the 2005 Homelessness Action Plan, and the Provincial Government
is not doing enough to create more affordable housing.

"Now we are seeing homeless people on Commercial Drive, in Kitsilano, the West End and virtually every
neighbourhood and in many city parks," said Woodsworth. "Meanwhile
the province has a $250 million Housing Endowment Fund sitting unused in the

"In just the last four months, 375 single occupancy rooms, for many the
last stop before being on the street, have closed in the Downtown

Proposed Granville Bridge truck
route could pose health risk

A plan
Vancouver city engineers to upgrade the Granville Bridge for heavy trucks and
highway buses could result in more hazardous air pollution and congestion along
the Granville Corridor, says COPE Cllr David Cadman.

"Turning the Granville Bridge into a truck route will channel thousands of
diesel belching trucks and highway buses through residential neighbourhoods
along Hemlock, Seymour, Howe and Fir streets, and expose residents to more
diesel exhaust," said Cadman. "We know people living along the Knight
St. truck route are exposed to high levels of diesel particulate that has been
recognized as causing cancer.

"Now we are being presented with a plan to turn residential streets along
Granville into diesel truck routes without any analysis of the impact on air
quality, noise congestion or the disruption caused by routing big transport
trucks and highway buses onto the Granville Bridge."

In a report going to City Council next Tuesday, city engineers want $330,000 to
begin studying how to strengthen the Granville Bridge‘s Hemlock, Fir, Howe
Seymour on-ramps for heavy trucks and
buses. The report notes that "completion of the bridge strengthening
project will address the existing deficiencies and allow the City to add
another truck and bus crossing across False Creek."

Engineers want to fast track the work in "a timely manner (that) will provide
greater flexibility in transportation planning related to the Olympics."
Olympic security concerns are expected to shut down existing truck access to Main and Cambie streets,
forcing trucks onto Granville instead.

"Before any decisions are made on turning Granville into a truck route, we
need to do health studies and determine the impact of truck pollution, noise
and congestion on local residents and businesses" said Cadman. "In
the last decade this area has changed from light industrial and warehouses to
dense residential, retail and entertainment uses such as Granville Island.

"We have to now ask if current uses are compatible with an industrial
truck route. And we have to ask what is to stop trucks from continuing up and
down the length of Granville thus creating the ‘Granville Highway‘ that caused so much
concern to small business in the 1990s."

The Canadian Cancer Society notes that the World Health Organization’s
International Agency for Research on Cancer concludes "diesel engine
exhaust is a probable cancer-causing substance."

Diesel exhaust contains harmful substances, including particulate matter (fine
particles), sulphur oxides, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, volatile organic
compounds (VOCs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Small particles,
less than 2.5 micrometers in size, are thought to be the most harmful to human
health because they can penetrate lung tissue more deeply.

A 2003 city study of air quality along the Knight-Clark truck corridor found
that "pedestrians are directly exposed to noise and air emissions."

Sunset Community centre opens

Park Commissioners Spencer Herbert and Loretta Woodcock joined former COPE
Commissioner and Park Board chair Anita Romaniuk and neighbourhood volunteers
in celebrating the official opening of Sunset Community Centre.

Woodcock recalls the challenges in 2004/05 as costs were escalating, and how
the COPE majorities on Park Board and City Council managed to come up with funding
to construct the $12.3 million Sunset facility to LEED gold standards.

"The COPE park board implemented new sustainability initiatives in
building public facilities to the highest environmentally responsible

Woodcock and Romaniuk were recognized by the Sunset Community Centre
Association for their efforts in rebuilding Sunset, Vancouver‘s newest community

Province Wide STAND for Housing

WITH US for housing in your community on Saturday, May 3, from
1-2:00 pm.

Homelessness is a crisis in British Columbia.

More than 10,000 homeless people in our province.

Affordable rental housing disappears while land prices soar and land
speculation increases in every community in BC.

No federal social housing program since 1993.

Welfare rates do not meet basic needs: single rental accommodation for
$375 is non-existent in

Minimum wage does not pay rent.

It is shameful that thousands in our province are homeless and dying in our
streets, parks and alleys and that many more are one step away from
homelessness. The problem affects more people than those with mental health and
addiction issues. The lack of affordable housing impacts seniors, youth and
low-income workers. Immediate action is needed.

What is needed?

Instead of continuing to depend on “market forces” to solve housing
concerns, all levels of government must take action to build housing.

We need:

A permanent, national social housing program.

A comprehensive, provincial housing program that works with
municipalities and communities to build affordable housing for people at all
income levels.

Public land for non-market housing – no sale of public land to private

Improved access to social assistance, increased welfare rates and a
higher minimum wage.

Both the federal and provincial governments have budget surpluses. Construction
of homes for all can start now. There is no excuse for delay.

For STAND materials contact :

For STAND locations:

NPA-dominated School Board make a hash of school reorganization

only a few weeks for so-called "consultation" before deciding on
reorganizing part of a complex and diverse metropolitan school system seems
daft. Yet that is precisely what Vancouver NPA school trustees did before
launching Phase 1 of the UBC/Dunbar School Plan last January.

The result was leaving behind segments of Westside Vancouver confused and angry
at the initial foray into redrawing the school map.

NPA trustees should have been aware that their ‘Slash and Dash’ plan was in
deep trouble when articulate and passionate community representatives denounced
their plan as setting a troublesome precedent for other parts of the city.

It also signalled a precedent-setting change in the funding of new schools from
Victoria, where the province had previously funded in full the cost of schools
such as Elsie Roy and Collingwood Neighbourhood school; now, with the ready
cooperation of an NPA- dominated board, Queen Elizabeth Annex is to be shut and
go on the block to raise $25 million to fund the "new" University
Hill secondary.

What this says is that provincial responsibility be damned as long as we can
squeeze the cash out of Vancouver.

However, despite a torrent of criticism at packed school-based meetings the
current NPA board has ploughed ahead and gave no indication of backing off by
extending its truncated ‘consultation’ schedule.

Rushed plan from UBC:

The entire plan was predicated on a hurried and questionable UBC Property
Trust proposal – initial deadline for agreement was March 11, but observers
were left to wonder where this deadline came from as UBC denied setting it.
This plan would make available the vacant National Research building on the UBC
campus to the VSB. The NRC building would accommodate an overcrowded University
Hill secondary school and free up the current secondary school for a new
elementary school.

In order to raise money for the renovation and lease of the NRC building, VSB
put Queen Elizabeth Annex on the block for $25 million. This would supplement
the totally inadequate $10 million offered by the Ministry of Education. The
combined funding of $35 million would only fund a secondary school of 600
students with a projected growth in two more phases of 800 students and
eventually1100 students over the next decade.

Queen Elizabeth parents upset:

surprisingly, the parents of the 129 students attending Queen Elizabeth Annex
were upset that their smoothly functioning primary Annex was being put on the
block to bring about all of this. The possibility that some of their students
would have to move as many as three times over the next few years before being
settled unnerved many parents.

Selling school property short-sighted:

There is also the key issue of the finality of selling off a publicly owned
asset when a second additional elementary school in the area might be needed
with UBC’s explosive population growth.

Susan Chapman of the Dunbar Residents Association called the plan “short-sighted"
noting that in similar closures in the past the School Board leased the
buildings so it wouldn’t have to buy more land to build another school if the
school population increased.

UBC’S neighbourhood plan:

On top of all of this was the discovery, by a parent in the area – a
discovery that literally blindsided the VSB – that the highly profitable UBC
Property Trust developer had stated in the South Campus Neighbourhood Plan
that: “If the government funding for the school is not available at this time,
UBC will build the facility."

UBC has stated that parents were misreading its plan, but since the university
has created the huge campus community that needs more services, parents
countered that the university has a responsibility to build a K-12 school in
the area.

So much for VSB’s updated information and planning.

VSB plan skewed:

How skewed was this Phase 1 of the NPA reorganization plan?

It provided information and data on only 20 percent of the VSB student
population (UBC/Dunbar area) while denying access to its district-wide report.

It proposes closing two elementary school Annexes – Queen Elizabeth and
Garibaldi – without debating the fate of the remaining 14 annexes; a
questionable precedent for the next phase of the Board’s reorganization.

It allows two Westside schools to queue-jump other schools that are higher on
the district’s seismic upgrading schedule.

It introduced, for the first time in Vancouver, the sale of a publicly owned
school, paid for from property taxes, to enable the school board to lease land
from a private developer, the UBC Property Trust.

It has set off a systematic, stonewalling campaign to withhold the original,
district-wide VSB Educational Facilities Review, paid for out of public funds,
and now being used for the private and personal perusal of NPA trustees as they
plan Phases 11 and 111 of the board’s “confidential” (chairperson Clarence
Hanson’s word) review of the rest of the city.

Fallout from controversy:

The fallout from the mishandling of this first run at school
reorganization, despite the rhetoric surrounding what the Board calls a new
Network of Learning, sadly, contributes to community alienation and an
erosion of trust in publicly elected school trustees.

Garibaldi School closure, which the NPA improbably
insists is not part of Phase 1 of the Board’s overall closure plan, has ignited
strong opposition, and like the Queen Elizabeth closure, the board was
compelled to postpone its decision. Garibaldi hosted a recent community event
which drew 300 people and gathered an 800 signature petition opposing closure.

The mishandling of this entire process, coupled with the lack of transparency
and accountability, will cost NPA trustees in the upcoming November school
board elections.

Noel Herron is a former Vancouver school trustee and elementary
principal. He has filed a Freedom of Information request for the VSB
Educational Facilities Review that was tabled in camera by NPA trustees on June
26, 2007.

Newsletter April 14 2008 Full Version

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